Barcelona draws 1-1 with Leverkusen in Champions League
Dec. 09, 2015
LEVERKUSEN, Germany (AP) — Lionel Messi scored his 80th Champions League goal as a Barcelona side without many of its other stars played to a 1-1 draw with Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday, sending the German side to the Europa League.
Title holder Barcelona had already qualified and was sure to win Group E. Playing without Neymar, who sustained a groin strain in the final practice on Tuesday, and Luis Suarez, who was rested, Barcelona still went ahead through Messi — the only one of the three forward stars who started the match.
The Barcelona captain picked up a perfect through ball from Ivan Rakitic to score in the 20th. Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez leveled three minutes later.
Barcelona finished with 14 points, ahead of Roma with six. Roma advanced because of a better head-to-head record over Leverkusen, which also had six points. Roma drew 0-0 with BATE Borisov, which stayed bottom of the group at five points.
With nothing to play for, Barcelona coach Luis Enrique did not even bring Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique to Germany.
But Barcelona still took control at the start and Rakitic created the goal for Messi with a perfectly timed through pass. Messi rounded goalkeeper Bernd Leno and slotted home.
Leverkusen replied quickly. Admir Mehmedi sent in a low cross from the left and Hernandez fired a first-time shot into the roof of the net.
A bad clearance then allowed Hakan Calhanoglu to have a clear shot but he missed the Barcelona net.
Barcelona's German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen produced two outstanding saves to protect Barcelona's point in the second half. He first foiled Karim Bellarabi and then turned away a late effort by Hernandez with one hand.
"All we needed was one more goal so we are very disappointed," Leverkusen's Christoph Kramer said.